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Veritatis Splendor

"Keep your eyes fixed upon Jesus, who inspires and perfects our faith" --Hebrews 12:2

Pope Benedict XVI before our Lord

And only where God is seen does life truly begin. Only when we meet the living God in Christ do we know what life is. We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution.
Each of us is the result of a thought of God.
Each of us is willed,
each of us is loved,
each of us is necessary.
There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know Him and to speak to others of our friendship with Him.
~Pope Benedict XVI, Homily April 24th, 2005

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Ben Stein's "Expelled"

So I paid $7.00 yesterday at the movie theater to see... a documentary. A documentary that opened in more theaters than "Fahrenheit 9/11" and "An Inconvenient Truth" did, combined. You might have heard about it - Ben Stein's "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed." If you haven't yet, go see it!

"Expelled" was not at all what I was expecting. I was expecting more of a debate between Sten & ID proponents against atheistic Darwinists, and a nailed shut case of ID folks getting slammed by PC universities because of ideological intolerance.

What we get is a film that spends a great deal of its time just trying to crack open the door of the Darwinists that they will be intellectually honest enough to allow that Darwin's theories of the "origin of the species" doesn't in fact explain what the actual origin of any species is - evolution from... what? Ergo, it truthfully isn't either "atheistic" or "theistic" at all because it really simply begs the question of the origin of life itself.

And astonishingly, Stein succeeds in cracking this egg - getting none other than atheism's poster boy Dawkins to acknowledge in one breath that there cannot possibly be any kind of "god", that there is a definite link between (athiestic) Darwinism and atheisim. Then, in the very next breath (in an uncut shot I might add), he is saying that maybe originally the first cell of life here was "seeded" by aliens, and, one step removed from intelligent human life, he goes so far as to admit that there is then still the unknown of how THOSE hypothesised intelligent lifeforms came to be living. So, asks Ben, there might be a "god" of a sort after all - we don't know? Checkmate. No wonder Dawkins is complaining now about being mistreated.

(by the way, check out this story about how Dawkins and Meyers, a UofM biologist, tried to sneak into a pre-screening in Bloomington - Dawkins signing his name as "Clinton Dawkins"! Too funny!)

The other big theme of the film aims at helping us to connect the dots in regards to the real implications of holding either a form of Intelligent Design or a form of atheistic Darwinism - as previously pointed out, both of these arguments are, ultimately, philosophical, even metaphysical, ones. Within a framework of Dachau and one of the notorious Nazi "death" hospitals, Stein and others lead us through thoughtful philosophical analysis on the logical consequences of atheistic Darwinism: the devaluation of human life, eugenics, and ultimately a form of the Holocaust, whether it happens in a concentration camp or a sterile lab. Following the lead of atheistic Darwinism, Stein and others propose that Hitler was perfectly sane. The Nazi understanding of eugenics is what logically follows, ultimately, from the atheistic Darwinist views, because if man is just an animal, and there are no rights given to man by anything greater than another man's legal system, then it would seem that eugenics is just self-guided evolution - our next stage in evolution, if you will.

Now, Stein doesn't blame Darwinism for Nazism - nor is he is really out to debunk Darwinism scientifically, rather his goal is merely to show that the theory of evolution is itself incomplete, and, like all areas of science, needs to be further tested. But he does very much want us to realize that there are implications here, stemming from our motivations behind believing what we believe - our philosophy, or worldview.

"Expelled" is by no means perfect. For one thing, there are so many different flavors of "Intelligent Design" that there is the same problem defining it as there is defining "evolution". As a matter of fact, to this point there is no single coherent "theory of ID", as there are too many factions involved. The basic point, that the universe is a Creation (not necessarily created in 6 days!) is the only thing uniting the defenders of ID. There is a real inability to argue it substantially due to ignorant equivocation - on both sides.

Secondly, honestly the "smacked down" interviews of ID scientists and the corresponding defenses by the pro-Darwinists is the weakest part. There is a limited number of "witnesses" to academic censure, and even more limited ways to know exactly what happens behind tenure board doors. The variety of censured individuals that Stein gets together are, taken together, impressive for their range of fields, but individually I think each of their cases falls short. Their own arguments for ID are, noticeably, absent for the most part. There is enough circumstantial evidence, and probably some actual evidence out there, to say that there is a climate of hostility in academia towards anything smacking of dissent from the evolutionary creed... but no body is going to change their mind on that by watching this film, I'd reckon.

Really, however, I don't think the point of this film was to showcase individual "bad boys" like these ID-entified scientists or even to "prove" once and for all that any reference to ID will be automatically quashed in America's higher institutions. The real point of the film was to be a warning to us to take seriously our beliefs and ideas, that ideas are not "harmless" and abstract but that they, like it or not, have real consequences on how you live - or determine how others live. It was not these incidents, or any individual incidents, but the very foundation of the atheistic Darwinist worldview - and what it implies for the future if those in power hold these views - that Ben Stein has put on trial.

Brent Bozell had this to say about the film:

...But when [Ben] Stein suggests to Dawkins that he’s been critical of the Old Testament God, Dawkins protests – not that Stein is wrong, but that he’s being too mild. He then reads from this jaw-dropping paragraph of his book:

“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, blood-thirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

Dawkins has a website. Its slogan is “A clear-thinking oasis.”

It’s understood that God had nothing to do with the origins of life on Earth. What, then, is the alternate explanation? Stein asks these experts, and their very serious answers are priceless. One theorizes that life began somehow on the backs of crystals. Another states electric sparks from a lightning storm created organic matter (out of nothing). Another declares that life was brought to Earth by aliens. Anything but God.

The most controversial part of the film follows Stein to the Dachau concentration camp, underlining how Darwin’s theories of natural selection led to the eugenics movement, embraced by Adolf Hitler. If there is no God, but only a planetary lab waiting for scientists to perfect the human race, where can Darwinism lead? Stein insists that he isn’t accusing today’s Darwinists of Nazism. He points out, however, that Hitler’s mad science was inspired by Darwinism.

Now that the film is complete, the evolutionist prophets featured in the film are on the warpath inveighing against it, and the alleged idiots who would lower themselves to watching it. Richard Dawkins laments how the film will solicit “cheap laughs that could only be raised in an audience of scientific ignoramuses.” Minnesota professor and blogger P.Z. Myers predicts the movie is “going to appeal strongly to the religious, the paranoid, the conspiracy theorists, and the ignorant –– which means they're going to draw in about 90% of the American market.” Myers and Dawkins now both complain they were “duped” into appearing in the movie (for pay).

Everyone should take the opportunity to see “Expelled” – if nothing else, as a bracing antidote to the atheism-friendly culture of PC liberalism. But it’s far more than that. It’s a spotlight on the arrogance of this movement and its leaders, a spotlight on the choking intolerance of academia, and a spotlight on the ignorance of so many who say so much, yet know so very little.

Read the rest here.


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